Tilak Punn
In a large city in a distant part of the country a daimyo of great wealth and power ruled over the people, and was both envied, hated, loved and respected for his actions and his decrees. Some considered him a fair and loving lord, while others thought of him as power-hungry daimyo with the only interest being the throne of the shogun. As he was fairly new to this part of the country, however, most people shrugged it off with the explanation, that the daimyo was still merely ignorant and unversed in the ways of the local traditions.


The time of the year came, when the annual spring festival was to take place, and the daimyo was going to open it with a speech at the city square. He spoke at great length about the beauty of the land and the greatness of its people, and praised the spring festival. He then proceeded to announce a new decree, that stated that any criminal or violent act done during the spring festival, how justified it might be, would be punishable by death. This was greeted with a great applause and loud cheers among the people, as it was a peace loving kind.

Suddenly three Samurai stepped forth from the crowd. All the people, including the daimyo went silent as they approached the podium, where the daimyo was standing.

"How dare y..." Seeing the faces of the Samurai, the daimyo abruptly went quiet and his face grew pale. As the Samurai stepped up on the large podium, they drew their swords and, surrounding the daimyo, pointed them at his chest and back. He fell to his knees, crying, "Please don't kill me! Don't kill me!". The Samurai looked straight at him with seemingly uninterested looks, and the daimyo started sobbing.

"Who are you and why are you carrying your blades like you do?" An elder man stepped forth from the crowd, who now began to show signs of nervousness. The oldest Samurai said, "Forgive us our insolence, at the time we didn't see any other alternative. We are called Kinbei, Riemon and Kazuko, former Samurai of the Shimatsu clan in the Satsuma province."

"Former Samurai?" the Elder man asked.

"Yes, a few years ago our lord was killed in battle for the shogun, thus rendering us without master; Ronin with no further quests but that for justice."

"What justice is that, and what does that have to do with our lord?"

"Three years ago the shogun was attacked at his palace by a small, but skilled group of unknown Samurai, whose intention was to assassinate him in order to make way for their daimyo to reach the throne of the shogun. At the time our lord was at the palace and with his few Samurai he managed to defend the shogun from the attackers, but at a very high cost."
"What cost?"

"As we were poorly outnumbered, it was a difficult task fending off all the attackers, several of us got very serious wounds, some lethal. Our lord himself showed such contempt for death, that he refused to leave the midst of the battle, and was so seriously wounded, that a few hours after the last attacker was chased off, he died in front of the throne. Since then, we have been searching for the one responsible for the attack on the shogun and the death of our lord."

"Surely you don't mean..." the Elder man began.

The younger Ronin spoke, "He is found at the tip of our blades, but shall soon find himself closer to the hilt. However, as the only proof you have heard so far is our voices and our claims, allow us to present you this." He sheathed his sword and reached into his clothes, taking out a paper. "This is signed by the shogun himself, and contains a thorough description of the one responsible for the treacherous deed." He walked over to the Elder man and handed the paper to him. The Elder man looked closely at the paper for a long time, as if reading the letters several times. He then said, "It certainly looks like you are telling the truth..." He turned to the daimyo. "What have you got to say?"

The daimyo looked up with fear in his eyes, as if he already had been found guilty and sentenced to death. "It wasn't my fault! I didn't mean to... I was drunk! I don't remember what orders I gave to whom! Don't kill me!" He began thrashing wildly, without realising that the two razor sharp blades were still pointing at his chest and back. Suddenly the daimyo went silent and still, and looked down at his chest, where the tip of the Ronin's blade now protruded. His mouth was quickly filling with blood and, choking heavily, he fell over, dead before his face hit the podium floor.

The three Ronin turned towards the Elder man. "This is not how we intended it to be."

"I realise that, but should no longer be of your concern. None here doubt your claims anymore, I would think, and if anyone here doubts the justification of your act, they are free to take it up with me. I serve the shogun with my heart myself, and I do not take any pity on his dead body."
The youngest Ronin stepped forward, with blood still dripping from her sword. "There is one other thing, Elder one. You have not forgotten your former lord's last decree already, have you?"
"I assure you, we won't hold that against you!"

"Nevertheless, it was declared a law, and Samurai are not above that. For Ronin, the local laws are the only laws, and thus it's more important than ever not to break it."

"Surely you don't mean..." The Elder man's voice trailed off.

"Our quest is done, and you will have no more to deal with us." The three Ronin bowed to the Elder man and, lifting their swords high simultaneously performed the ritual of seppuku in complete silence.
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